Timely boost for Rory McIlroy as he reaches settlement with former sponsor Oakley
World number six is competing in this week’s Australian Open at Royal Sydney
Rory McIlroy is competing in this week’s Australian Open at Royal Sydney, as he seeks a first win of the season.
The weather in Sydney yesterday was such that Rory McIlroy confined his practice putting to the carpet of his hotel bedroom. Yet, some of the storm clouds which have enveloped him this past year appeared to have lifted, with confirmation that the Northern Irishman has reached a settlement with former sponsor Oakley.
Oakley, the sport and lifestyle brand who used McIlroy to promote its eyewear, clothing and accessories, had claimed the right of first refusal when the golfer signed a multi-year deal with Nike reputed to be worth up to $200 million.
A court hearing date had been set for the Southern Division of the Central District in February, however, in a statement released on behalf of McIlroy, the matter between player and former sponsor has been resolved.
“The legal claims brought by Oakley against Rory McIlroy in California have been amicably settled to the satisfaction of both parties,” the statement said.
McIlroy, who was world number one when signing with Nike but now down to sixth in the official rankings after a winless season, is quoted: “I am delighted the case is now behind me.”
Speaking in Dubai a fortnight ago, ahead of the DP World Tour Championship, the finale to the European Tour’s Race to Dubai, McIlroy had claimed he had “seen more of lawyers’ offices and more lawyers this year than I care to see in my entire life . . . it’s not something I ever want to go through again”.
In the same statement confirming the matter’s resolution, Oakley marketing manager Pat McIlvain said the company was “very pleased the proceedings against Rory have been resolved. We enjoyed an excellent relationship with Rory as an Oakley brand ambassador. He conducted all his engagements on our behalf with energy and professionalism. We recognise that, in his business dealings with us that were the subject matter of this dispute, Rory was represented by his agent”.
Although the Oakley case has been resolved, with no public details of the full terms, McIlroy is still involved in legal proceedings with his former management company, Horizon Sports Management.
A court date has been fixed for the Commericial Court in Dublin next October, after the Ryder Cup, to hear that case where McIlroy has sued Horizon and Horizon has countersued the player.
McIlroy is competing in this week’s Australian Open at Royal Sydney, as he seeks a first win of the season. McIlroy – the headline international act alongside local heroes Adam Scott and Jason Day – is no stranger to the course: he first competed in the championship as an amateur in 2006 and played again in 2007, his rookie season on tour.
McIlroy’s appearance in Sydney will be the penultimate outing of the year, which is due to finish up with next month’s World Challenge in Sherwood, a tournament hosted by Tiger Woods.
Whilst McIlroy looks to find some late-season winning form, Ireland’s newest European Tour cardholder Kevin Phelan will kickstart his professional career at the €1.5 million Alfred Dunhill championship at Leopard Creek in South Africa, where former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel is seeking a third successive win.
Walker Cupper Phelan, who came through last month’s European Tour qualifying school, is one of six Irish players in the field along with Michael Hoey, Simon Thornton, Damien McGrane, Gareth Maybin and Peter Lawrie.
Phelan is seeking to get off to a flying start to life on tour and is also included in the field for next week’s Hong Kong Open in Fanling and the following week’s Nelson Mandela championship back in South Africa.
Schwartzel, who won by 12 strokes a year ago, has called the tournament his “favourite” of the entire season.
“It’s one of my favourite courses in the whole world, and it treated me pretty well last year,” said the South African.